As I mentioned previously, after the night of June 18th, and the felony charges that followed, the summer of 2011 was very difficult for our family. We were trying hard to live normally, but everything was far from normal. Some members of Family ‘A’ continued to shun us, and even though I was not happy about the pending trial, I was heartbroken, given how close we had been. I wrote them a letter, telling them this, and asking if perhaps their lawyer told them to act this way?? while reiterating that we were sorry and hoped our friendship could continue. They invited us over to talk, and the mother gave both Dave and I a big hug.
When we sat down to talk however, the very first thing the father said was “We want you to know that we hold nothing against you or Gloria”. My immediate thought (and later found Dave thought the same exact thing) was that he must mean Grace. Yet as the conversation continued, I realized he really did mean Gloria, and they were still angry over Grace’s mistake and that she’d been in their home. Their two children were much younger and I wondered if they couldn’t see that Grace too was a kid? Nonetheless, we left feeling hopeful that things might be better given time.

A short time later though, I had a big disappointment. While mowing the lawn, I saw their (Gloria’s very best friend’s) annual end-of-summer-dog-swim party going on. Gloria’d always loved this… and clearly she had not been invited. I didn’t tell her about it…but I did mow the lawn crying that day.

As kids got their class assignments in August, and began posting them on Facebook, Grace realizes that she will be in a Drama class with some of ___ ‘s partier friends. She is very upset, terrified and in fear of retaliation from them and insists that we change her out of that class. She would have loved this class and I thought would excel in it given her outgoing and bubbly nature, so I didn’t want to give in. I tried to reason with her, but she is over-whelmed, shaking and crying in fear of how she will be treated as one of them has openly bashed her with his cousin, who was a good friend of Grace’s. Nothing can persuade her to change her mind.

Meanwhile, as the court date nears, Grace is experiencing incredible anxiety and fear at possibly being called as a witness or running into ____. Grace’s doctor ups her anti-depressant and adds Adivan to help her sleep/eat/function.

We hear from our attorney that Assistant States Attorney Lisa Romano does not want to drop the Felony 1 charges to a lesser count. (There were 3 counts in addition to this charge of Burglary-1st Degree (Felony), there was also Burglary-Third Degree (Felony), Burglary-Fourth Degree (Misdemeanor) and Theft (for the alcohol-Misdemeanor). They are playing hardball…I am not sure why, other than the fact that Family A is very involved and still angry and feeling violated.

Following my lawyer friend’s advice in order to make sure the hateful tweeting stopped, I did make the request that the malicious tweets be presented to the judge during the young man’s trial and was told they would be.
Though we’d requested that they not have trial at the same time to ease some of Grace’s anxiety and fear of having to face him, when the papers come, they are at the same time. I call again and make the same request. It is honored- they will go at 8 and we can arrive later in the morning. Our lawyer knows her stress and meets us and takes us around the corner so she will not have to run into him or his family.

During the trial/adjudication, Grace’s demeanor was shaky, tearful, fearful and sorrowful. She again tearfully apologizes to the Family A, asking for their forgiveness. We made a statement in support of her honesty, integrity and strength during personal trauma and how we are certain this would not happen again. It was frustrating to us and hard on her that there was absolutely no delineation between the type of person she is, and how she lives her life, versus how he regularly (mis)behaves.
Family A gave a victim impact statement saying “…our initial reaction was absolute disbelief and shock at the flagrant disrespect and total disregard for our family while we were away, absence of common decency, and the violation of our trust by Grace”…

There was a small amount of blood on the floor and on the edge of the bedspread from the sexual encounter which they found particularly upsetting:

“Our initial disbelief at such an egregious violation of our privacy quickly turned to disgust and horror as sordid images flooded our thoughts,….We could not sleep in our room, avoided going into it for a week or more until a new bed-frame, mattresses and linens were purchased. The thought of sleeping on these items was so unacceptable given the images of what had happened in our most private of spaces that we opted to replace these items, less than 3 years old, for the sake of ourselves being able to begin to psychologically protect ourselves and to try and move forward. However, we still find ourselves pre-occupied and stressed at times with the images and feelings of the gross invasion of our privacy, and having to take time off from work to meet the police, make and receive pertinent phone calls, completing written forms, and replacing our locks and damaged items.”

And continued:

“…We still can’t begin to fathom why Grace did what she did, but recognize that she and her parents had the decency to come forward in what seemed to be a forthright manner, and along with her parents appeared to be trying to do what was right and taking responsibility for her actions. However, in our opinion, the situation was so reprehensible and vulgar, involved betrayal of basic trust and common civility, theft and a sexual act with an individual who we regarded as trouble, that to do nothing would seem to invite future trouble for us or perhaps another family, or young woman and would not allow us to move forward with a sense of closure and justice for all involved. So after much prayer and thought, with a heavy heart we did report the incident to the police…. We are seeking restitution not for lost wages/productivity, mental anguish, and stolen alcohol, but for the cost to replace our locks and the items in our bedroom that to us were stained with a memory we are struggling to replace…”

Grace was found ‘Delinquent’, and ordered on probation, to be regularly supervised by the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS). (As far as I know she is treated exactly the same as _____ in terms of punishments.)

She was sentenced to:
• Meeting with probation officer(an hour round trip) once a month. Not allowed to leave the state without documentation and prior o.k.
• 150 hours of community service. (Which is a lot and hard to accomplish in our small community when both she and her molester belong to the same church, and other places are 20-30 minutes away by car and she can’t drive yet. You get these hours 1 or 2 at a time. The animal shelter she most wanted to be at wouldn’t take anyone under 16)
• Submit to drug/alcohol evaluation
• Complete current counseling program
• Submit to random urinalysis at DJS request
*** Attend a Victim Awareness Program ****
• Write letter of apology (she’d done this of her own accord already)
• Write 1,000 word essay –What I have learned and would have done differently
• No contact with children of family B, or ‘unauthorized’ contact with Family A.
***** Pay Restitution to Family A for over $700.00 ***** for replacement of their mahogany bed, mattress set, pillows, sheets, blankets and comforter.
(Imagine being made to pay for replacement of the bed she was raped on!)

Towards the end of the session, I remind Public Defender Avery Berdit and Assistant States Attorney Lisa Romano of the Malicious Tweet Document I had prepared and asked it be introduced at the adjudication of both minors.
A copy of the document was handed to Judge William Tucker. As he reads the harassing and mean tweets you can see his face harden in anger.
He pointedly asks why he hadn’t seen them earlier and Asst. States Attny Romano mumbles something about not being able to verify them?? We are told they will be made part of his probation status so that they stop. (But clearly the judge had NOT seen them at Bully B’s earlier trial, and he was not at that time warned to stop)
Ms. Romano turns to us and says to contact her if they do not stop. We assumed we’d been heard and he would not bother her any longer in any way. We assumed someone would monitor him. We assumed that someone would watch him and make him behave civilly.
We assumed, given the judges disgusted response to the malicious cyberbullying, that people cared and would do their job.
We assumed that the worst was over and things would get better for Grace over time.
Less than six months later, she was dead at age 15.

Less than 6 months later she would be gone...and our hearts will never be the same.

Less than 6 months later she would be gone…and our hearts will never be the same.

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